Saturday, September 10, 2011

Maa, Maggie and Mangoes

According to a survey by Virgin Atlantic, the back-packs of Indian students enrolled in foreign universities are stuffed with Maggie noodles,pickles and mangoes. Ready to pay excess baggage fee, students are willing to leave books and clothes behind. Other favorites include jaggery, bhujias, mathri and ghee. One creative soul insisted on carrying the traditional broom. What a broom can, a vacuum cleaner cannot. And old habits die hard.

 I remember, when I went to live in a hostel for my graduation, my mother insisted on packing umpteen boxes of home made savories. When the mess food was despicable, which was a norm, my mom's home made delicacies were saviours. 

Decades later, nothing has changed. My son has similar issues. On the day of his departure, the house is engulfed in a mist of emotions. As the packing commences, the emotional mist thickens. The father, in a somber mood finds solace in mellifluous Rafi or a voluminous book. The grandmother finds refuge in the kitchen. For my mother, emotional connect is directly proportional to the time spent in the kitchen. But honestly, kitchen is not my favorite place. So I take charge of packing  the food items and making space for the same in his backpack. Space being inadequate, a silent altercation ensues.

For the young man, gizmos, wires and books are on a higher pedestal. Naturally space for all the food stuff is limited. But ‘ma ki mamta’ is limitless.  He refuses to carry eatables while I insist on packing as much as possible.

Both of us stick to stated positions. The tension escalates. A firm voice of his father breaks the impasse. “Take all that your mother has packed. Throw it if you cannot eat it.” End of the discussion. Poor boy shoves all the cookies, snacks and savories the cost of his favorite clothes and gadgets.

Three days later I receive a call from the young man after dinner.
“Ma,  hungry.”
“Why? No food in the mess?”
“It was horrible.”
“ What about the stuff I packed?”
“Dry fruit?”
“So soon? Did you throw the stuff or what?”
“My room mate and friends finished everything.” 

The fact that a few hungry souls had their fill gave me some solace.
After the call , like any other mother, I found my dinner insipid. However, the following day I came to know that the boys had raided the college canteen that night and enjoyed hot aloo parathas around midnight.

So if your child is going abroad, where chances of hogging aloo parathas at midnight are bleak, then all the ready-to-eat packets and bhujias make sense. The broom makes sense too. After all one does need familiar things away from home.


  1. hii!

    wow! what a sweet coincidence, I too posted on 'maa ki mamta' today!

    when I went to hostel, it was so much fun..the food of our canteen was very good and I never missed ghar ka khana ever :)

  2. :D

    Come to think of it... Everyone's home-made delicacies are gulped down by hostel-mates even before one can manage to survey what exactly he or she had got from home. :D

    Which means, everyone in the hostel gets a share of everyone else's food from home... except his or her own. :P

    In fact, the variety of other people's home-packed food was probably the only thing which people looked forward to while returning to the hostel in my days. :-)

  3. its true...moms..delicacies.. and home packed food..
    BUT...US has everything indian grocery stores..very reasonable..n best quality..hard to find..even in india...all best things are marketed outside india..
    Its a huge..industry..hard to believe... all kinds ..pack foods ..all veg n non veg..very healthy n tasty...
    and then lemme ..put light on this too
    there are ladies who make fresh food everday for hostel kids n bachelors can pick it up..or even they deliver too..
    Usually we end up ..leaving stuff on airport ..during checking ...its very strict!

  4. Life story of every single hosteler :)

    Loved it

    Weakest LINK

  5. :) hahahahaha.....we used to eat maggi at 2:00am and cook rice with just salt and red chilli powder!!!! those were the days.

  6. hehehe... it happens to every hosteler :) :)
    its all 'maa ka pyar" :)

    loved it..!!! :) :)

  7. That's beautifully written , My mother always says , 'Pack your bag beta' , For how long i am going to do this for you .
    Seriously , she keeps telling this thing lies in this pocket and this in the other .
    I also remember calling her back every time to ask it again.

    I know I am very lazy and not responsible at times but I love to see that look on my mother's face when I am about to leave and she gives me my bag.

  8. My Maa's pyaar oozes out in the delicacies she insists on plying me with, every time I visit her. And I dread it!

    Thankfully my daughter is aware of her Mum's aversion to the kitchen and will never have to worry about "ghee laden goodies" :))

  9. Whenever mumma is on a hunt in market insted of utilizing oven for food we put maggi on fire. But sometimes lazy me chew it direct from the packet.
    Cool na!?!

  10. Mom's delicacies and home-food easily beat every other thing by miles :D

  11. Lovely post that had a strong whiff of mother's love and her missing her offspring :)

    My sons used to complain about no ghar ka khana too because the goodies didn't reach them at all after being raided by their friends. But there is another side to the story too -- the older one especially used to say that after being made to eat everything at home his palate had got thick enough to tolerate the mess food :D

    I agree about familiar things to accompany those leaving home.

  12. It is the same story in every house... reading this was like revisiting the past..

  13. been there, done that. engg colg hostel , away from home, home made food, frends raiding the stuff the moment u step inside!

  14. @AS..Will read your post now.Great minds think alike.What say?

    @Shobhit...If one is in a metro then food is not an issue but in places like Pilani, Suratkal where the campus is isolated food becomes a causality.

    @Harman...True. But those leaving shores for the first time want to be sure and carry all the stuff they imagine they wont find.

  15. @Rachit, Chintan, Madhulika....

    Like you all Maggie was Godsend for me even two decades ago..but at the last moment some friend would come and we had to share that precious one pack.

  16. @Ashish...Awww...I can absolutely identify with ur mom.

    @Purba....Girls somehow manage a palatable meal but boys are absolutely clueless and helpless when mess food is unpalatable.

    @Prateek...Uncooked maggie? The cuppa noodles can be eaten but the packet ones?

  17. @Mayank, Rahul, Maniac hunter...:)Same story

    @Zephyr...You again sensed where this post was coming from.It is amazing how you interpret my posts and sense exactly what I am trying to say.

    The older one must be joking.

  18. I am no longer in a hostel but her delicacies still manage to save me when am out of stamina or enthu to cook at the end of the day. Wish there was a regular supply of it :P

  19. Loved the title. I am sure not many will fail to notice mamta in paranthesis, kind of Maa (ki mamta), Maggie and Mangoes!

  20. Loved this post sweet...
    I have to confess that while leaving for the US, my mom had actually packed mangoes for me along with a looooong list of other goodies to eat....unfortunately the mangoes got thrown out at O'Hare international airport...but that's another story....
    I agree when you're away from home, anything that reminds you of home is comforting....I remember I had seen the 'zhadoo' at a friends place in US and almost shrieked in excitement....since it had been so long that I'd seen one, and then I promptly went to the local Indian store and got one for myself..hehehe...

  21. Awwww! Cho cute! I have never been to a hostel. And, I don't think that I would have survived in one either. For a very simple reason, that, I am a very picky eater. I would have starved to death!

    But I know, that Shayon used to take a couple of stuffs whenever he was to go back from home to hostel. And, I remember buying him stuff to eat and to take back to the hostel, even when he used to come and meet me!

  22. YESSS i rememebr the hostel days .. sunday parents would come to meet there kids .. and everyone would wait for them to leave .. THEN it was like what have u got what have u got ..

    We use to have (i dont know the english name ) Pinniyaan, Bisuits, Dry fruits , MAthiyaan lots of things .. and they would jsut finish off ..

    Beautiful hostel days ..
    Not a fan of maggie at all but mangoes yessssssssssss


  23. Lovely post laced with mother's love:) Hostels always gives me the goosebumps, especially the bread toasts...yikes! Thankfully my son is at home now, but i still dread the day he would be setting foot in college:(((

  24. @Sh@s....Regular supply is a great idea...alas!

    @Umashankar...You are right, more than maggie and mangoes this post was borne out of mamta.

    @AAD...ha ha...jhadoo made you nostalgic? Must be missing home terribly.

  25. @Sakshi...He sure is lucky to have you. Sakshi, if one is in a metro then food is not an issue but in places like Pilani, Suratkal where the campus is isolated food becomes a causality.

    @Bikram...Mathri, besan ladoo, and yes pinniya...and of course mangoes. But they are very strict at the airports these days..

  26. @Cloudnine...Hostel life is a great learning experience.Girls somehow manage a palatable meal but boys are absolutely clueless and helpless when mess food is unpalatable.
    Hope your stays in a metro or a big city where food is not an issue.

  27. Great one.

    A friend once commented on FB - No Indian would agree to go onsite without a Maggi, Bhujia and it'
    s likes :)

  28. Such a sweet post! Slightly nostalgic and scary for me as well.. Gonna return be holed up again as I go for my pg ;-(

    St. Nomad

  29. this is so true...when i used to go back to hostel in Mumbai from Kolkata Mom packed so many stuff...and no restrictions in train travel...used to get irritated when i had to carry all the stuff...but back in the hostel, i just loved them...and used to be proud to share it with friends to let them know how good my mom cooks :)

  30. That is a common story, but in our cases before we dialed that blessed number of the heaven on earth, we rummaged through every room in the hostel for that savoured 'Ghar ka khaana', because there are always a few who save supplies behind closed doors for times when others would be on a prowl, scavenging for such delicacy and they'd be just enjoying the moment in their closed rooms.

    Nice read.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  31. Still my mother compels me to take pickle with me to Bangalore when I leave my home. Now i have food from hotels and i cannot take a big tin of pickles in there.

  32. @Venkatesh...:) I have had so much maggie in hostel that I hate it now.

    @stnomad..Depends on where you are, in metros food is not an issue but in far off campuses it is a problem.

    @SUB...Aww..thats sweet.

  33. @Anshul...haan, it is the same metros food is not an issue but in far off campuses it is a problem.

    @Harish...Nothing can beat home made pickles...

  34. haa...haaa....Lolz...thank god my son is not carrying all these.....:-D

    Alka.....good one dear....:)

  35. The importance of Maggi in life of an average student is definitely understated. My hostel days in Mumbai ended with an awesome Maggie with Bread. I still remember the yummy Indian style maggie with masala, tomato and veggies thrown in!

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. this was a lovely read. first time to your blog, came through indiblogger.
    i remembered my own hostel days. ditto :)
    maa ka pyar - true!! throw it if you dont want -- haha yup

  38. That's all too familiar a situation!
    My mom is very insistent on dry fruits and khakras...And she has some fixation for methi-parathas,no doubt they are the best,but still every bag has it's limits!
    She might not be a fan of maggie but she also knows that sometimes its immpossible to cook due to late hours at work, so its a saviour...
    God,moms are the best!Alka that was a superb post,very emotional actually...

  39. @Shalini...I knew you would identify with this one:)

    @Mayank....Yum...that sounds interesting. Maggie with bread, unusual combo. When hunger strikes sab chalta hai.


  40. @Syjatha...Welcome here.You are right maggie is nothing but a savior. When all doors close maggie comes in its myriad avatars, with bread, with veggies, with sauce...
    Thanks for reading.

    @Team G square....:)

  41. Lovely post Alka, reminded me of my wife-daughter confrontations when the latter was studying abroad.....:)

  42. Happened with me..many times..recently finished my studies and experienced it every time I packed my bags to go to hostel

    Loved it

    u can read my blogs at

  43. well written, are you in the US too? I am following you and will come back:)

  44. :) quite true Alka..the best part is maggie never leaves you..its a part of your life that we all take for granted...but each time you stare at that many memories stare back at you...right from the time that you had your very first snack :)

  45. @Satish....I am glad you could relate to the post.

    @jyaendrasharan...Will visit your blog now.

    @Life Ordinary....No I am in Gurgaon, son At BITS.

    @Indias no 1 blog...I guess Maggie should give me some moolah for advertising.


  46. Reminds me of a incident...I came to hostel after a semester break with my bag full of delicacies from home..(not the ghee stuffs..I do not like ghee!)..there were some snacks..namkeen and sweets...I had barely reached my room, when 3-4 of my friends came and opened my bag and started what they had come for. My room mate used to smoke those days and he had a cigarette in one hand and was talking to us..while having the snacks...He threw the cigarette from our 3rd floor room to the ground below...where our warden was taking his walk and the butt landed on his bald head. Looking up..and estimating which room was responsible for it...he hurriedly came to my room where 4 of us were busy finishing my stuff. When we saw the warden, we just stood up...not knowing what we had done...He asked..who smokes in here..? No one replied.Then he noticed a friend of mine there..still having the sweets and namkeen as if nothing had happened..The warden shouted...'abe..bhukkad hai kya?' haha

    Those days!!

  47. @Kunal...Aww..thats so funny..

    yup those days..every strand of maggie and every morsel of food was precious.

  48. What's interesting is that this nostalgia cuts across generations.I've heard similar stories from folks in their 50's 40's 30's alike !

    I guess there is a common noodle that ties us all !

    Good read.

  49. beautiful post and Maggie is important part in life of every Indian student.

  50. awwww...another thing we have in common Alks-the aversion for kitchen unless forced or coaxed, besides the fact that we are great writers...hehe...behte ganga mein haath dho liya:-)

    the ma ki mamta is so super cute! wish i would be half as good moms as you wonderful women are when Seeya grows up:-)

    and really Maggie?now at the risk of sounding really stupid-don't they get maggie or some other cup noodle or stuff there so that they don't have to carry it along but simply buy?:/

  51. Awww. Students. Me included since my hostel days are still going on. I have rarely ever packed food into my bags. But I remember getting really happy every time I would get a care package from home, full of my favorite stuff. Sigh. Such happiness.

  52. Oh Yes..the hostel years.... Raiding of friends rooms to nibble at delicacies from every part of India and the variety of pickles. We used to have at least two types of homemade pickles on our mess table each night for dinner. I think we would have starved if we had to survive on tasteless Dal and Sabzi! :)

  53. @Gyanban..true.

    @sm..:) Thanks

    @Suruchi...Dear, behti ganga ka inspiration and source aap hi hai.
    I guess the students try to play safe when they carry maggie.And Maggie is for emergency hunger pangs which strike students at the middle of the night.

  54. @Suruchi ...Typo..In the middle of the night..Abhi English teacher se daat par jaati.


    @Juxtaposition..Yuck that tasteless dal still creates a nauseating feeling but those were golden or no food.

  55. Ditto. My mother would so much want to meet you and share her bit of the story- which is pretty much on the same lines. To make it better is the line she threw at me everytime I came back, " You have gotten thin"- not knowing how untrue it was for the rest of the world :)))). I have practically been out of home since 1998 and even though I know things age, but- my mother's enthusiasm for packing those homemade delicacies and my father's anxiety to make sure that I am on time for the train- seems to defy that.

    From a son's perspective, I guess it was only in the first few years that I did not want to carry all that or did not like when parents walked me to my room. After few years, it felt good when I got things from home. Feelings evolve :)))

    I have not been home since the last few years. Maybe it is this extended stay off home speaking- but I do miss everything that used to happen there. Thank you for taking me back :)

  56. Loved your post! A friend related a hilarious anecdote about his Maggi travails when he moved to a hostel. One day he decided to cook Maggi and, guess what, popped it into a pressure cooker to steam. Suffice to say that he spent the rest of the day scraping strings of maida off his room's ceiling :)

  57. Ha ha .... I like that "friends finished everything"...... the same story everywhere.

  58. Alka,

    Factual. Reminds me of my days away from home.

    Take care

  59. Nothing can beat ghar ka khaana and Maggi is always a savior. A post filled with warmth. And, I miss broom here as everything else is available in Indian stores closeby.

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